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Showing posts from January, 2018

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman

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Setting: Hawaii
Genre: Historical Women's Fiction
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: February 13, 2018



There were times Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers really saddened me. I wish we could learn from past mistakes. Some people seem oblivious, however.

Since her husband's disappearance a year ago, Violet Iverson does all she can to keep a roof over their heads. Her daughter's struggling and seems to truly be lost without her father. Young Ella is nervous, prone to anxiety, and clingy. Violet isn't sure if the attack on Pearl Harbor is to blame or if Ella knows something about her dad's disappearance.

When Violet's friend's brother brings some U.S. military men into their lives, Violet is cautious. She soon finds herself drawn to one of the men. She's also hesitant because no one really knows if her husband is alive or dead. Soon, Violet and her friends are selling homemade pies to the soldiers, getting caught up in gossip, and facing the cruel realities of …

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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Setting: Philadelphia, PA
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Author: Susan Meissner
Release Date: February 6, 2018



I loved this book. As Bright as Heaven is not my usual genre, but I was drawn to the cover art and plot. I'm so glad I picked it.

With an offer to learn his uncle's trade and work side by side with him in a funeral home, Thomas Bright talks his wife into moving from their rural community to the bustling city of Philadelphia. After the death of their infant son, the family is ready for a change.

Thomas and Pauline pack up their daughters and make the move. It's a big change for teenage Evie, pre-teen Maggie, and young Willa. Things go well at first. Evie is busy learning all she can as she dreams of going to med school. Maggie is fascinated by the work her mom is doing to prepare the deceased's hair and make-up. Willa is busy making friends and trying to figure out why she's not allowed in the "Elm Bonning" room.

It isn't long b…

The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer by Jessica Bishop

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Genre: Reference
Publisher: Temescal Press
Release Date: February 6, 2018



I'd like to start by thanking Calisto Publisher's Club and Temescal Press for a free copy of this wedding planner.

According to The Knot's annual survey, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329. That's an outrageous amount of money for many couples. Jessica Bishop's The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner and Organizer can help you plan a fantastic wedding on any budget.

The book is divided up into critical sections and includes worksheets you can fill out or copy if you don't want to mark up the book. Those sections are:

The VisionThe BudgetThe Guest ListThe VenueThe InvitesThe Wedding-Day LookThe Wedding PartyPhotography, Music, Food, Cake, and MoreDecor, Rentals, Flowers, and FavorsThe Other PartiesAccommodations, Transportation, and MoreThe Big DayOnto the HoneymoonContract and Negotiation TipsImportant Names and Numbers (You fill it out)Resources

At the end is an index to make it …

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan

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Setting: U.S. and Italy
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Author: Camille Pagan
Release Date: February 27, 2018



In what should have been time spent enjoying a new life as empty nesters, Maggie Harris is stunned when her husband announces he's leaving her for a younger woman. She's simply floored by his decision to toss decades of marriage aside.

Maggie has put everything into raising their kids, keeping up with household management, and working as a bookkeeper. Somewhere along the way, she realizes she lost herself.

After a few weeks of being miserable, Maggie takes the tickets she and her husband purchased to go to Italy and goes off on a solo vacation. What happens there changes her life and gives her the chance to explore what she really wants to do now.

I hate to say, but there were times I saw a bit of myself in Maggie. I gave up a position as the administrative assistant to a company CEO to raise my kids. I don't regret it, but now that the…

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell

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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Author: Susan Bishop Crispell
Release Date: February 6, 2018



No magic in the world has been able to save her daughter from a terminal illness. Penelope Dalton would do anything she can for young Ella, but the diagnosis is grim. Rather than live out the rest of her life in fear and sadness, Ella creates a to-do list of things she wants to do before her life ends. Of the many things on her list, dying her hair a bold color, getting a kitten, and finding her dad are all near the top.

Penelope knows Ella's dad is back in town, but she can't stand more heartbreak. Noah Gregory broke her heart when he left their small town years ago, and she's sure once his brother's leg heals, Noah will leave again. She's not about to let Noah break their daughter's heart. And, that means she can't let Noah find out that Ella is his daughter.

In Dreaming in Chocolate, there's a bit of a paranormal aspect I wasn&#…

Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green

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Setting: Montreal, Quebec
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Author: Ellen J. Green
Release Date: February 1, 2018



Following her adoptive mother's death, Ava Saunders finds a photo of a house with her baby things. She soon learns that a double murder took place in that home. Unsure how the home is connected to her or what the cryptic message "Destiny calls us" means, Ava enlists the help of her friends to unravel this decade's old mystery.

Before the investigation even takes off, Ava's detective friend is injured by a hit and run driver. She's soon certain that someone wants the secrets of the past to remain secrets. Learning the truth about her origins may put them all in danger.

Twist of Faith requires close reading. There are a lot of characters involved in the narration of the different chapters. I had a hard time keeping up at times. I'm never thrilled when I have to get out pen and paper and make charts to keep up with the who' who.

I…

When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham

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Setting: Cottonbloom, Mississippi and Louisiana
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Author: Laura Trentham
Release Date: January 30, 2018



When the Stars Come Out is the fifth book in Laura Trentham's "A Cottonbloom Novel" series. I haven't read any of that series until now. This book stands alone, so you don't have to worry if you've missed the other books.

Willa Brown ran from a troubled past. She's appreciated the job she was given with the Abbott family. Fixing cars comes naturally to Willa, and the under-the-table pay has been essential to keeping her past from finding her. Even if that means ignoring the feelings she's had for Jackson Abbott.

When one of the Abbott brothers decides he wants to sell his share, Willa's safety may be at risk. The brothers want her to cough up her SSN with the start of a new year. Doing so could put her and those she loves at risk. She's just not sure she wants to reveal the tru…

Yours Truly by K. J. Pierce

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Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Author: K. J. Pierce
Release Date: March 2017



Her boyfriend may be gorgeous, but he's a bit stuck on himself. Kicking him out may be the best thing Izzie Greene has done. Izzie's a caterer and her latest job involves providing the food for the cast and crew of a hit TV show. It probably helps that the show's star, one hunky Scot named Cardwell Bennett, has her thoughts in overdrive.

On the side, Izzie writes a blog about the show. She keeps that part of her life hidden from all but her best friend. She has to ask Delly for help as one piece of fan mail is a word puzzle that Delly is able to translate. Izzie's policy of never answering mail is being tested once she reads what it says.

Before long, everything in Izzie's life turns upside down. When Cardwell's car goes into the shop, he asks her for a ride to work. She's happy to agree, but it's hard staying in control when your celebrity crush is sitting…

Surprise Me: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella

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Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: The Dial Press
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Release Date: February 13, 2018



I've read so many Sophie Kinsella books over the years. They never fail to make me laugh. I ended up feeling a little let down with Surprise Me. It was okay, but I didn't laugh as much as usual. I found myself feeling sorry for the main character.

When Sylvie and Dan's are told they can expect more than 60 more years together, both are taken by surprise. Sure they're happy now, but can truly stay happy when you're with the same person day in and day out for decade after decade?

To make sure their marriage stays fresh, they decide to start surprising each other on a regular basis. What Sylvie finds hidden in Dan's locked desk drawer is definitely surprising. It's a secret that could just shatter their marriage.

I liked Sylvie. I liked Dan. I really liked Sylvie's quirky, single friend. What never worked for me was watching what was a really happy…

Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

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Setting: East Coast
Genre: Women's Fiction/Mystery
Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: January 30, 2018



Megan Mazeros dreams of going to college and getting out of her small Kansas town. Her father's illness keeps her from achieving those dreams. That is until mesothelioma ends his life and she and her mother learn he'd taken out a large life insurance policy when he suspected he was sick. With the money in hand, Megan heads off to Connecticut where she starts her journey in a private women's college.

As the daughter of an esteemed senator, Lauren Mabrey seems unable to do anything right. She's involved in a relationship with a bad boy that goes wrong. After that, her mom has her sent off to a private woman's college in hopes that Lauren will straighten up. It's there that Lauren discovers a passion for photography, something her mom does not approve of.

Surprisingly, Lauren and Megan hit it off and become close friends. On one summer break, Lauren invites M…

Crash by Keith Houghton

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Setting: New York City
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Author: Keith Houghton
Release Date: January 18, 2018



Crash makes me ask two questions. Do I simply read too many suspense/mystery/thriller novels or did I miss my calling as an investigator? In what could have been a puzzling mystery, I ended up finding a book where I predicted the outcome way too early.

Jed Allen "wakes up" in his office. He can't remember anything of his past. A note and items in his office are all he has to guide him on his way.

It turns out Jed suffers from intermittent amnesia. Usually, the spells last minutes, maybe hours, but this time is different. One hour stretches into two. All he can find to help him is the name of his girlfriend, Cassie, but she's nowhere to be found.

Jed sets off to unravel the truth. There's a killer at large in the city. When he finds a dress covered in blood hiding in his trunk, he suspects he could be the killer. With Cassie missing a…

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

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Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Author: Kylie Brant
Release Date: January 1, 2018



It's been close to a decade since Kelsey Willard disappeared. While the police and media seem to have long forgotten, Kelsey's mother, sister, and father have remained trapped in their own cycles of hell. They wonder what happened to the teen. They hope she's still alive, but there's never been any trace of her since the night she rode off on her bike.

When another young teen vanishes, the previous case comes back to the limelight. The Willard family find themselves dealing with memories of the past. Whitney's family is just as pained as they wait for some word on whether or not their daughter is the victim of the serial killer believed to be responsible for Kelsey's disappearance. Two girls from one town are missing. Police are desperate to find them. Meanwhile, Whitney is alive but just as desperate to escape, and somewhere in the midst of it all ar…

Killer Choice by Tom Hunt

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Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Author: Tom Hunt
Release Date: January 30, 2018



It's early in the year, but I already know that Killer Choice is going to be on the top of my list for must-read novels. This is a debut, and it's a stellar debut at that.

Gary Foster has it all. His wife is pregnant with their son. His sporting goods business is doing relatively well. His brother is his business partner, and the two have never been closer.

It all comes crashing down when he gets a call that his wife has collapsed and had a seizure. Her doctors find an aggressive brain tumor. There's little hope for survival unless the couple can raise $200,000 for an experimental treatment in Germany.

Media appearances and fundraisers don't come close to raising the money they need. It's when things are looking bleakest that Gary gets a call with the potential to change their lives.

Gary can save his wife's life if he accepts one task. He needs to kill a bad man. …

The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

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Setting: North Carolina
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Author: Barbara Claypole White
Release Date: January 16, 2018



New mom Katie Mack is plagued by constant fears that she's going to harm her daughter. The fears get worse with every passing day. Things culminate and Katie flees. She feels her daughter is safer without her.

Almost a decade passes. Katie is now a talented metal artist. She never expects a school presentation to bring her daughter back into her life. Worse, she sees things in her daughter that mean trouble. She believes her daughter also has the same mental illness that runs in Katie's family.

Katie swore she'd stay out of her daughter's life. She also knows she's in the best position to help her daughter adjust to all the changes that are about to enter her life. Can Katie save her daughter before it's too late?

There were times when I wanted to pace of The Promise Between Us to speed up a little. I was intrigued b…

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Setting: Lost Creek, Alaska
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Release Date: January 2, 2018



I loved Marieke Nijkamp's past novel. That one tugged at my heart and had me thinking about the plot for months. I was very eager to read Before I Let Go. Sadly, I only found it to be okay. It wasn't something I'll remember in a month or two.

Corey and Kyra were two peas in a pod. Best friends for years, the two were inseparable in their small, remote Alaskan community. When Corey, her mother, and her brother left the village so that Corey could attend a boarding school, the pair counted the days until they would reunite.

Days before Corey is scheduled to visit Lost Creek, she gets a call that Kyra is dead. She was found frozen in the village's lake. Corey heads to Lost Creek to attend the funeral and uncover why Kyra was in a lake that should have been frozen over. There, she's treated like an outsider and made to feel very unwelcome b…

My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

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Setting: California
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: January 23, 2018



Simeen Desai's husband, Nirvaan, is dying. He's battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for years and now there's a tumor in his brain. He wants to give up all treatments. She wants him to fight. To convince him to go another round against the disease, she agrees to have a baby and reunite with his best friend, the former love of her life. Tragic events tore Simi and Zayaan apart, and Nirvaan wants to see them reunited.

Together the trio set off to tackle Nirvaan's bucket list over the summer. It's on these adventures that Simi learns life without her husband may be okay and that love will go on.

Strengths and Weaknesses
The bulk of the story revolves around the love triangle formed between Nirvaan, Zayaan, and Simi. You know that Simi and Zayaan have a past, but the full details of what happened to end things comes later in the story. I found that that's the point whe…

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

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Setting: Pennsylvania
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publisher: Doubleday
Author: Louisa Luna
Release Date: January 9, 2018



When sisters go missing from a store parking lot in a rural Pennsylvanian town, Alice Vega is called in to find them. The bounty hunter has had a lot of success in finding missing kids. She doesn't get a warm welcome by the local police, so she asks for help from a local private investigator who was once part of the local police force. Max Caplan just wants to live his life and avoid things from his past, but Alice is hard to turn away.

Teaming up, the pair starts unraveling a series of secrets and lies that plague the town. With the clock ticking, potential suspects vanishing, and a mother who is desperate to find her daughters, it's anyone's guess as to what happened to these girls.

Two Girls Down was very strong from the start. I was drawn to all the characters. Alice is tough and does things her way. She's got a touch of a rebel nature, but that made…

Still Me: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

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Setting: NYC
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Author: Jojo Moyes
Release Date: January 30, 2018



I can't come up with a better way than to celebrate the arrival of 2018 with a look at Jojo Moyes' third book in the Louisa Clark collection. Quirky Louisa has loved, lost, triumphed, had her heart broken, and keeps trying to live her life as Will wanted her to.

In Still Me: A Novel, Louisa's taken a job in New York City. She's the new assistant to Agnes Gopniks. This second wife of a prominent businessman is European and treated with disdain by most. She's the cliched much-younger replacement, and it seems to make her miserable. Louisa's determined to embrace her new job, but her new co-workers aren't as welcoming as she hoped.

Meanwhile, Louisa's also trying to balance her new relationship with her new career. Ambulance Sam is on a whole other continent and has a new EMT partner who seems to have set her sights on him. If that'…